Jen Baldwin: How I Hack Genealogy

Jen Baldwin

[Editor’s Note: Jen Baldwin, creator of Ancestral Journeys and Conference Keeper, is also a co-chair of The NextGen Genealogy Network is the subject of this week’s How I Hack Genealogy Interview. Learn how she leverages her unique skill set as well as pirate queen capabilities to find success on the genealogy high seas!]

About Me

Name: Jen Baldwin

Title or position: CEO of Ancestral Journeys and Conference Keeper. Creator and Host of #genchat. Co-Chair of The NextGen Genealogy Network. Pirate Queen.

Website or Blog:

Other social media links:

Location: Summit County, Colorado

Technology I Use

Hardware (computer, laptop): Dell Inspiron laptop, with secondary monitor.

Cloud storage: Dropbox and Mozy

Backup program or routine: Weekly auto updates to the cloud and to an external hard drive.

Printer: HP Deskjet 2540 Wireless

Are you “paper” or “paperless” or in-between?:  In between. Trying hard to accomplish the paperless dream, but some projects simply just need paper. Estimate an 80% paperless operation.

Email program: IQTell

Smartphone model: Samsung Galaxy 3

Fave mobile app: TweetCaster, Time Meter, IQTell, Buffer

Web browser: In the words of Trace Adkins…. “Forget pink and purple paisleys, little mellow-yellow daisies, ain’t no pot of gold in her rainbow, her favorite color is… CHROME.”

Calendar program: IQTell

RSS feed reader: Flipboard

Photo storage and editing: Microsoft Office Picture Manager and PhotoShop

Fave social media: Twitter! #genchat is one of my favorite activities every week. I learn a great deal in every conversation.

Genealogy database program: FTM 2012

Music player: iTunes, Pandora

Blog platform: Weebly, WordPress, Blogger

Other tech stuff : Canon EOS Rebel T3i digital camera

Me and Genealogy

Number of years involved in genealogy: 15

Professional or non-professional?:  Professional

What I do (describe your role in the genealogy community): My favorite part of my career is engaging with other genealogists and creating platforms for collaboration and equality. That is exciting and gets my blood pumping.  I study and share western mining resources and history, fraternal societies, and the Rocky Mountain corridor. I reach those goals by writing, speaking, researching, and providing social media management consultation.

What I enjoy most about genealogy and family history:  The thrill of the search, the solving problem and goal of putting the puzzle together; the people I have encountered and the friends I have made. Time spent in cemeteries, courthouses, and libraries, sleeves rolled up and hands dirty.

What annoys me most about genealogy: Drama. Politics. Not knowing, sometimes, who to trust. Knowing that hard work and passion are criticized, simply because others refuse to see the whole picture.

Genealogy super power: Three am spontaneous outbursts of “outside the box” ideas and innovation. I wear a cape.

Biggest advance in genealogy in the last five years: Social media, without a doubt. Being able to reach out to a researcher from any corner of the world, and not only get the help you need, but to have a friendship, is amazing. The variety of platforms offer something for everyone; there is no longer any excuse not to be on social.

What will always stay the same in genealogy:  The emotion involved. Nothing can ever replace the way you feel the first time you see your ancestor’s grave, or find a photograph, or see their signature.

What will need to change in genealogy: Assumptions; they are deadly in our research, and they are deadly in our community. We need to stop assuming that age is equivalent to experience or knowledge.

Closing Thoughts

My Secret Hack for Genealogy (a tip or trick): 80s big hair bands. When all else fails, crank up the rock and let loose for a while. Then go back to it with renewed energy. Also, Google Scholar.

Advice to a beginning genealogist:  Have fun! Get to know some folks, join your local society, be engaged. It is a lifetime journey, one of passion and exploration. Enjoy it.

Advice to a “lifer” genealogist: Have fun! Do not forget what it felt like when you made those first discoveries, and reconnect with that. Join your local society, be engaged.

Open Forum

Use this space to share anything you want!: 

I work hard to balance my online presence and education with a more traditional approach of seminars and conferences. Getting the best of both worlds allows me to learn in a variety of ways, and the learning is a good deal of the fun! I enjoy taking advantage of some of the more creative outlets: TED Talks, Coursera, etc. I would challenge all of you to step outside of the genealogy world to learn more about genealogy.

©2013, copyright Thomas MacEntee

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